A majority of TV news channels gave sizable coverage to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Kaohsiung mayoral candidate, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), during the nine-in-one elections in November last year, a study by the National Communications Commission showed yesterday.
National Chengchi University’s journalism department was asked to analyze the TV news coverage in the two weeks leading up to the Nov. 24 elections, following complaints from many viewers that news channels were failing to provide balanced coverage of the mayoral races.
The research team monitored election coverage between the hours of 7am to 8am, 12pm to 1pm, 7pm to 8pm and 12am to 1am from Nov. 10 to Nov. 23 on Taiwan Television, China Television (CTV), China Television Service (CTS), Public Television Service (PTS), Next TV News, ERA TV News, Eastern Broadcasting Company (EBC) News, CtiTV News, Formosa TV News, SET TV News and TVBS News.
The team coded each news story based on the candidates covered in the story as well as story length, but did not say whether a story was favorable or unfavorable to a candidate, the commission said.
The team found that the 11 channels aired a total of 13,759 stories over the two-week period, 49.5 percent of which were related to the election.
About 54 percent of the channels’ news time was dedicated to election news coverage, it said.
PTS had the lowest percentage of election stories (20.38 percent) and devoted 23.67 percent of its news time to covering them.
Election stories accounted for 69.66 percent of the news on CtiTV News and took up 76.7 percent of its air time, the team said, adding that the channel had the highest number of election-related reports and gave them more air time compared to the other outlets surveyed.
The team also found that the election news covered by the 11 channels focused mainly on the candidates in the six special municipalities.
Reports on the Kaohsiung race trumped those of the other five cities, followed by coverage of Taipei, New Taipei City and Taichung.
The top five candidates whose campaigns received the most attention were Han, Democratic Progressive Party Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), KMT New Taipei City mayoral candidate Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智), in that order.
Han was ranked No. 1 on eight of the 11 channels in terms of the news time dedicated to a candidate.
The three exceptions were Next TV News, ERA TV News and Formosa TV News.
When examining the news time spent on political candidates, CTV and CtiTV — which belong to Want Want China Times Group — had used of more than 50 percent of such time to cover Han (52.94 percent and 57.43 percent respectively).
The two channels devoted between 0.7 percent and 5.7 percent to other mayoral candidates, the team found.
The most surprising discovery was SET TV News, which is widely seen as “pro-green” camp news media, but its coverage of Han occupied about 25 percent of the news time used to report about candidates, even exceeding that for Chen (20.24 percent).
The study was conducted in response at the public’s request for transparency of information, the NCC said, adding that similar studies would be conducted in the future when necessary.
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